An.. experience.. concerning urates~

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papermoth

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Hello! A quick introduction, my name is Kim, I'm 25 years old and a grad student. Me and my family care for many box turts, and my most precious sulcata, Sky.

So I understand its generally normal that a sully may excrete some of that white stuff with their urine. Sky's just a baby, and I've seen her do this on occasion. Lately I've been growing concerned because her stools have changed consistency and more often than not, seems like she's having diarrhea (this started happening a week ago). I feed her a variety of weeds such as sowthistle, dandelion, henbit, and mallow along with weedy grasses. She also gets plenty of sunshine and time to graze our lawn. her selection is a little more limited now due to it being winter, so romaine lettuce has started being more common in her diet as of about a month ago.

back to my story, I was soaking her in the sink and cleaning around her.. ahem, nether regions with a q-tip, when out of nowhere she SHOOTS urine straight up at least 6 inches right at my face. Lucky, she just got it in my hair and on the sink, lol. Needless to say I was kind of mortified, and even more so to see how much of the urates were in her urine! I was really concerned so I sifted through it (I'm sorry if that sounds totally disgusting), and found two particularly large, hard urate stones (I have a pic of 'em below).

From reading other threads I've come to the conclusion that she may be dehydrated, but I'm very confused with why this could be the case (yes, I did mention that she's had diarrhea, but I was wondering if it was because of the romaine :/). I haven't soaked her daily in the past, but I know now that's definitely going to change and I plan on giving her daily soaks if it'll help her pass these things and feel better. But besides that, should I be greatly concerned right now, and does anyone have any suggestions they can offer me?
 

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Laura

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hello... well yuck!
I would change her diet. Less romaine and more dark leafy greens. Spring Mix, santa Barbara salad mix..
Make sure she is getting good warm soaks, daily. When you handle her and she pees.. its s sign of distress. and it can dehydrate them.
So try not to over handle.
 

TortieLuver

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Hello Kim! Aren't Sullies so much fun. They also stress you out because they are your babies. I am not sure how long you have been giving the romaine and changing the diet with more of the lettuce since it's winter, but that could be why the stools are looser. Have you tried adding dried/hay of Bermuda/alfalfa/timothy. Alfalfa is supposed to help aid diarrhea. Also, you might want to try something in the choy family. My vet recommended the choy (boc) because it has a lot of fiber in it than other store-bought items. Also, do you keep a water dish in your setup? The warm soaks are very beneficial. It is my opinion from experience that my tortoises keep themselves well hydrated by having a water dish in the setup/enclosure. I just make sure the dish is in the middle, as some torts will climb walls and you don't want them tipping over into the water dish/saucer.
 

papermoth

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@Laura: Alrighty, will do! I'll get the spring mix today. Daily soaks are no problem, and I'll take care to handle her only when its necessary. I'm guessing I may do it more often than I should simply because my box turts are never bothered by it.

@Tortie: Well, giving her romaine was sort of an accident (my mom gave her a large handful of it when I was out last week), and the other day I gave her some mixed with some weeds and soaked timothy hay because she never tires to eat it dry. I keep some timothy hay in a dish in the corner of her enclosure at all times in case she's ever curious to try also. I'll also get that boc choy, I see it all over the place. She has a water dish in her enclosure, but I never see her drink from it.
 

Tom

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The urates sound pretty normal to me given all the factors you listed. I'd certainly add more variety to the winter diet if possible.
Here's how I like to keep them:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-How-To-Raise-Sulcata-Hatchlings-and-Babies#axzz1D6fasNnz

Daily soaks will ensure hydration and reduce the frequency and grittiness of the urates.

He's starting to pyramid. Humidity, hydration and shell spraying can halt it where it is and prevent it from getting any worse. There is much more detail about all this in the above link to the care sheet. I mention this because the gritty urates and the dry conditions that contribute to pyramiding go hand in hand.

There are two schools of though on handling them: 1. Don't do it a lot because it stresses them out. 2. Do it a lot so they desensitize and it no longer stresses them out.

I subscribe to school #2. Done gently and carefully they just get used to it and over time it no longer bothers them. It CAN be over done, but I've never had that problem. Maggie advocates carrying them around held close to your body and talking to them a lot. I just handle mine whenever I need or want to and they just accept it. Sulcatas are pretty bullet proof in this respect. I would use a lot more caution with some other species.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

playingeet

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I am fairly new to tortoise, but two years ago when I first got my Greek it seemed to have similar problems, (loose stool, and such) and I did just what they are saying, changed diet and kept her hydrated, and it went a way quite fast and she is doing great! good luck
 

papermoth

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Thank you guys four your expert advice! She ate a good handful of spring mix today and seems bright and active as usual. The humidity in her enclosure is around 45%. I've had a humid hide box for her for a while, but she rarely goes inside it, so I'll try to do some furniture rearranging and see if that helps. I carry her outside in the palm of my hand or on a small saucer and she's pretty comfortable with that. My younger boxies are very comfortable around me and I've had then fall asleep in my lap on several occasions, it's really sweet. I'll take extra time and care when I handle Sky, she is a bit shyer!
 
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